It's February. Weeping take ink.
Find words in a sobbing rush
For February, while black spring
Burns through the rumbling slush.
And take a cab. Ride for a rouble
Through wheel racket and bell's throbbing
To where the downpour makes more din
Than the sound of ink and sobbing;
Where rooks in thousands, like charred pears
Windfallen from their branching skies,
Drop into puddles and bring down
Desolution into deep eyes.
Thawed patches underneath show black,
The wind is furrowed with cries, and then,
The more suddenly the more surely,
Verses sob from the pen.
By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
In the young century’s cool nursery,
In its checkered silence, I was born.
Sweet to me was not the voice of man,
But the wind’s voice was understood by me.
The burdocks and the nettles fed my soul,
But I loved the silver willow best of all.
And, grateful for my love, it lived
All its life with me, and with its weeping
Branches fanned my insomnia with dreams. But
– Surprisingly enough! – I have outlived
It. Now, a stump’s out there. Under these skies,
Under these skies of ours, are other
Willows, and their alien voices rise.
And I am silent… As though I’d lost a brother.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova), 1940
– from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book)
– translation by D. M. Thomas